Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has accused Minister Katherine Zappone of failing to adequately prepare for the introduction of mandatory reporting.
Concerns about resources and staffing levels raised by the Chief Executive of Tusla and by the Irish Association of Social Care Workers have been ignored by the Government to date, and Deputy Rabbitte is calling on the Minister to outline what processes are being put in place to deal with the additional workload.
“Earlier this year Tusla CEO Fred McBride outlined his concerns regarding the additional pressure that mandatory reporting will place on the agency, going as far as to say that it would “pose significant further risk to children and families”. While this comes as no great surprise, given the fact that Tusla is already under severe strain, it is deeply worrying that the Minister has still not taken steps to address it”, said Deputy Rabbitte.
“Mandatory reporting is likely to generate anywhere between one and a half to four times the number of referrals to Tusla. Given the fact that the agency is already struggling to deal with the current level of referrals, the additional case load created as a result of mandatory reporting could see an already overburdened system pushed to the verge of collapse.
“At the moment, there are 800 child protection and welfare cases that are deemed to be high priority where a social care worker has yet to be allocated.
“What we are hearing from social care workers is that unless mandatory reporters are given proper training and support, the number of these referrals will increase exponentially and prevent genuine cases of child protection and neglect receiving the attention that they need and deserve.
“Minister Zappone needs to come forward immediately and outline the measures she will be taking to ensure that Tusla’s child protection functions are not jeopardised by the introduction of mandatory reporting”.